Christmas Shopping Trends for 2021

By Lisa McGrimmon | Published Oct. 4, 2020 | Modified Oct. 30, 2021
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Christmas shopping trends for 2021 that you can use to sell more crafts this holiday season.

I've reviewed loads of holiday retail data from the perspective of craft business owners, so you don't have to.

You're welcome!

The goal: To understand how people who sell handmade items at art shows and online can work with current trends to boost sales for the Christmas 2021 shopping season.

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TRENDS 2021

Back in 2020, shopping habits changed significantly, making holiday retail trends tough to predict that year. In 2021, shopping behaviors are still greatly transformed, but we have a clearer picture now, and we can identify a few important trends.

5 key Christmas shopping trends for 2021:

  1. Shoppers plan to spend more in 2021
  2. Shoppers will start buying earlier than usual
  3. Online & hybrid shopping will be strong
  4. Large retailers dominate, but strategies for small businesses exist
  5. Shoppers will buy gifts from a range of categories

Let's look at each of these Christmas shopping trends in some detail and examine what they mean for your craft business.

Sources: 

Throughout this report, I've noted the source of any holiday shopping statistics. I've linked to all of those retail data sources at the bottom of the report, so you can take a closer look at the numbers yourself.

I haven't covered all of the Christmas shopping trends forecasters are predicting for 2021. Instead, I've focused on ones most relevant to craft business owners in general. You can find more holiday shopping trends in the sources if you'd like to take a deeper dive into the topic.

Christmas gifts wrapped in white with gold ribbon and greenery

SHOPPERS PLAN TO SPEND MORE IN 2021

Total sales for the 2021 holiday shopping season are expected to increase. Overall, retailers this year can expect a 7% to 9% increase in total holiday revenues compared to last year. (source Deloitte)

Most shoppers plan to spend the same amount or more than they spent in 2020. 

Over 85% of holiday shoppers say they will spend at least as much they spent last year. 65% of shoppers plan to spend at least $250, up from last year.

SHOPPERS WILL START BUYING EARLIER THAN USUAL

The 2020 Christmas shopping trend toward buying earlier was strong and is predicted to grow in the 2021 holiday season. Women and older shoppers are most likely to shop early. Men and younger shoppers are willing to wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

  • 57% plan to begin shopping on or before Thanksgiving
  • 28% plan to start their holiday shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday
  • Only 15% of shoppers say they won't start shopping until December (source Tinuiti)

Looking more closely at those numbers, we can see that you'll be wise to start promotions early if your customers are primarily women and older shoppers.

Who plans to start holiday shopping before Thanksgiving?

  • 46% of women plan to start holiday shopping before Thanksgiving
  • Over 50% of Baby Boomers and people over 75 will start shopping before Thanksgiving (source Tinuiti)

If your customers are primarily men or younger people, expect them to shop later, and entice them with sales.

Who will shop later, motivated by Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales?

  • 33% of men will start holiday shopping some time between Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • 60% of shoppers aged 18-25 (Gen Z) will also wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales before they start shopping (source Tinuiti)

ONLINE & HYBRID SHOPPING WILL BE STRONG

E-commerce saw huge growth in 2020. Current Christmas shopping trends indicate that growth will continue for 2021.

  • This year: Online sales are predicted to grow by 11% to 15% for November 2021 to January 2022 compared with the 2020 holiday shopping season
  • Last year: From November 2020 to January 2021, online sales grew by almost 35% compared with the 2019 holiday shopping season (source Deloitte)

That level of growth over the past two years is massive and indicates the crucial importance for retailers to offer online shopping options.

  • 56% of shoppers say they will shop mostly or entirely online
  • 45% of shoppers say they will shop more online this year
  • Over 75% say they will use buy online pick up in store options as much as they did last year or more. (source Tinuiti)

Smart phones will be essential tools for shoppers.

Almost everyone under 40 (80%) will be searching for the perfect gift on their phones. In the over-40 crowd, 66% will use their phones to find gifts.

Offering curbside pickup will appeal to many customers. 82% of shoppers said they plan to use curbside pickup at the same rate or more often than in 2020.

Social media platforms will have a significant impact on customers' buying choices. 70% of shoppers say they will look to at least one social platform for gift ideas with Facebook and Instagram being the most popular sources for inspiration. That number is highest for Gen Z shoppers at 84% and Millennials at 81%. (source Tinuiti)

Online holiday shopping social media trend  data

LARGE RETAILERS DOMINATE, BUT STRATEGIES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES EXIST

Large retailers will, by far, be the place where most people do their holiday shopping in 2021. However, there are marketing strategies small business owners can use that will resonate with customers.

71% of shoppers say they will do most of their holiday shopping through large retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

While people do plan to spend more this year, they are price-sensitive. The top three factors that impact holiday purchasing choices are cost-related including:

  • price, which will influence 44% of shopping choices
  • sales, which will influence 20% of shopping choices
  • free shipping, which will influence 14% of shopping choices (source Tinuiti)

In a distant second place, 13% say they will do most of their shopping at local and small businesses.

The 2021 Christmas shopping trends predictions do reveal some marketing strategies that small business owners can use to win back some customers from the large retailers including:

  • Promote your company as a local business
  • Promote social values your company sincerely embraces, especially if your customers are young
  • Offer an online shopping option even if your customers are all local
  • Consider selling on Etsy, especially if your customers are young & female

Promote your company as a local business.

Although large retailers will be popular, almost half of all shoppers across all age groups say that supporting locally owned businesses is an important factor in their shopping choices. 36% plan to shop more at small and local businesses this holiday season. (source Tinuiti)

You can encourage shoppers at Christmas craft shows to shop small, local, and handmade by displaying one of my free, printable craft fair signs.

Use social media to promote social values your company sincerely embraces, especially if your customers are young.

Overall, 53% of shoppers are "intentional" shoppers, meaning a company's corporate responsibility is a consideration when they decide where they will buy holiday gifts.

For younger shoppers — those aged 18 to 24 — that number is markedly higher. 71% of younger shoppers say a company's commitment to at least one social or environmental cause would encourage them to support that company. (source Tinuiti)

Intentional shoppers and customers who plan to shop local are influenced by social media, making the social media platform(s) your customers use great places to share your company's values.

Holiday shopping statistics for social values that influence buying choices.

Here's what Gen Z shoppers said when asked which company attributes influence their buying choices:

  • 42% of shoppers aged 18-24 are influenced by diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts vs. 30% of all shoppers
  • 41% of shoppers aged 18-24 are influenced by a company's support for Black Lives Matter vs. 24% of all shoppers
  • 48% of shoppers aged 18-24 support locally owned businesses, in line with shoppers of all ages who also support locally owned businesses at a rate of 48%
  • 34% of shoppers aged 18-24 support minority owned businesses vs. 24% of all shoppers
  • 39% of shoppers aged 18-24 support women owned businesses vs. 26% of all shoppers
  • 34% of shoppers aged 18-24 are influenced by a company's support for environmental conservation efforts vs. 27% of all shoppers
  • 20% of shoppers aged 18-24 are not influenced by any of the above attributes vs. 31% of all shoppers (source Tinuiti)

Offer an online shopping option even if your customers are local.

Online shopping is a powerful Christmas shopping trend that continues to grow in 2021.

73% of shoppers say they will do more than half of their holiday shopping online in 2021. If you don't offer an online shopping option, you're missing a lot of opportunities.

Consider selling on Etsy, especially if your customers are young & female.

Etsy offers an opportunity for small craft business owners to access one of the larger marketplaces that are so popular with shoppers in 2021.

Customers in your Etsy shop will often be intentional shoppers. They see the marketplace as a venue for supporting small and local businesses.

Overall, 23% of shoppers plan to buy some Christmas gifts on Etsy in 2021, up from 12% in 2020. The marketplace is particularly popular with female shoppers (28% plan to shop Etsy for holiday gifts) and younger customers (31% plan to shop on Etsy). (source Tinuiti)

SHOPPERS WILL BUY GIFTS FROM A RANGE OF CATEGORIES

2021 Christmas shopping trends show that people plan to buy gifts from a broad range of categories.

Notably, holiday shopping statistics predict a large increase in clothing & jewelry gifts and only a small increase in home goods. This trend is likely due to people going out more in 2021. They want to look good in their new clothing and jewelry, and they aren't quite as invested in at-home activities as they were in 2020.

Lifestyle changes also impact 2021 Christmas style trends for fashion and holiday home decor.

Holiday retail data for popular gift categories in 2021 vs. 2020

Which product categories do shoppers plan to buy as gifts in 2021?

  • 73% of shoppers plan to buy clothing
  • 61% of shoppers plan to buy gift cards
  • 73% of shoppers plan to buy electronics
  • 53% of shoppers plan to buy toys
  • 50% of shoppers plan to buy home goods
  • 42% of shoppers plan to buy beauty and self care products
  • 39% of shoppers plan to buy jewelry (source Tinuiti)

Gift cards will be the second most popular gift category in 2021.

Knowing that clothing is the most popular gift category in 2021 is great if you sell clothing. It doesn't help much if you make handmade soap or jewelry.

Happily, Christmas shopping trends predictions show that gift cards will also be very popular. 61% of all shoppers and 66% of shoppers over 40 plan to buy gift cards in 2021. (source Tinuiti)

You can offer gift cards no matter what type of product you sell, promoting them as a simple and smart gift giving option.

KEY TAKEAWAYS TO SELL MORE CRAFTS THIS CHRISTMAS

Predicted Christmas shopping trends for 2021 will, for the most part, grow from trends of the previous year.

Red Christmas gift. Text - 2021 Christmas retail trends for craft business owners.

In general, people are starting to go out more, but they are still connected to the safety of their homes and wary of crowded situations. Those sentiments are expected to shape the holiday shopping behavior for 2021.

Shoppers plan to spend more but are still cost-conscious. They will shop earlier and online. Most holiday shopping dollars will go to large retailers, but there a key values that can entice shoppers to support smaller businesses.

Start holiday promotions early — Expect more customers than ever before to be shopping well before Thanksgiving in 2021

Offer an online shopping option — A full 73% of shoppers will do most of their holiday shopping online. Online shopping has seen huge growth. It is here to stay, which makes investment in that capability a smart addition to your business.

Consider opening an Etsy shop — Etsy has seen huge growth, and it offers an easy and inexpensive way for craft business owners to start to sell crafts online.

Give customers a reason to support your business instead of shopping with large retailers — Promoting yourself as a local, small business owner, and highlighting social or environmental causes your company embraces are good strategies. Sharing those messages on social media will help you reach intentional shoppers. 

HOLIDAY SHOPPING TRENDS AND STATISTICS

Here are the sources I used for this article. Most are reports that require you to provide an email address to access the PDF.

Deloitte Article: Holiday Retail Sales Expected to Increase 7-9%

Tinuiti Report: 2021 Holiday Consumer Spending Trends

Criteo Article & Report: 2021 Holiday Shopping Predictions: 5 Trends to Watch

Channel Advisor Report: The 2021 Holiday Planning Guide

More Christmas Shopping Trends for 2021

  • 2021 Christmas Trends

    2021 Christmas trends report predicts the crafts that will sell well this holiday season. Sell more handmade items by featuring these 6 trending themes that will be on everyone's wish list this year.

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